Why Do We Use Hospitality to Prevent Child Sex Trafficking?
Naturally, we are asked all the time "Why do you use hospitality to prevent child sex trafficking?"
The answer is easy: God told me to, but the back story and even the current "story" we are living right now is more complex.
March 12th, 2016 I had a dream where I felt in my heart that God was telling me exactly what I was supposed to do. Lydia from Acts 16 is the inspiration and I was to "be like Lydia" and be faithful.
I was supposed to start a non-profit called beLydia and use hospitality to prevent child sex trafficking.
In this dream and the "download" the next morning, I was given a vision that didn't make sense at the time.
I didn't even know what child sex trafficking was.
I wrote down six pages of detailed notes about hosting events and gatherings. Details like serving iced tea and baked goods and healthy food and not so healthy food.
There would need to be a marketplace of woman vendors because Lydia was an entrepreneur.
beLydia would be the host.
We would be faithful and use hospitality and all of this would be done to spread the gospel. Yes, we would use these awareness gatherings to spread information and educate the community but spreading the gospel was at the heart of this ministry.
In this world, it probably doesn't make sense because hospitality is something we think needs to be perfect and fancy. Martha Stewart probably comes to mind.
Honestly, I love Martha Stewart. I've learned a lot from her but I've also learned that that type of "entertaining" is not what we're about.
Biblical hospitality is rooted and grounded in love and having an open heart. It's not about having the perfect napkins or tablescape (although I love to have the perfect napkins and I'm passionate about a breath-taking tablescape).
The kind of hospitality we practice is more Kingdom-focused where we use our passions and gifts to host events or have gatherings in homes to fight evil and spread the hope of Jesus.
To be honest, I have struggled a lot at times against this because when I look at other anti-trafficking non-profits marketing collateral, the colors they use (dark, brooding), and the images they use (again, dark, scary), I get it. I completely understand their choices. Use dark colors because THIS IS DARK. Use sad & tragic stock photos because THIS IS SAD and THIS IS TRAGIC.
It makes sense that they would try to convey the seriousness of what child sex trafficking or human trafficking is, because my God, this is so incredibly serious.
This is life or death serious.
But God gave me this PASSION for beautiful things. My entire life, I have been driven by my love for beautiful things. My love of colors and flowers and how a gorgeous centerpiece can get people excited. How setting a table can make people feel special.
All of that is ME. It just is and I don't think God would create me to be a creative person if I wasn't supposed to use that gift to serve others.
I look at the dark colors and the dark images and I look away. I just do. I'm sorry but I don't like to look at them. I want to see beauty. Hope, for me, comes from Jesus and I don't see Jesus in those images, I see darkness.
I had mentioned that I didn't even know what child sex trafficking was when I had this dream. Yes, I had heard of it, donated to an anti-trafficking ministry but didn't even know what they did. I just thought it was helping kids that are being abused.
If I never had this life-changing dream, if I was just living my normal life like I was before March 2016, I can tell you that I would never be "hooked" by dark marketing collateral.
Fear would most likely prevent me from wanting to know more. That looks dark so I'll take a pass on that.
Yes, I want to help keep kids safe, here's my check so you can go ahead and do that.
I was living in a BUBBLE.
I had absolutely NO IDEA what child sex trafficking was and that it was happening in my neighborhood.
Our "target customer" is me. Moms like me. Moms like you if anything I wrote about resonated with you.
Moms on Pinterest. Moms shopping for camp trunks and cute sandals. Moms who love jewelry and hanging out with their friends celebrating special occasions and talking about how they made the flower arrangement with mason jars.
Moms who share organizational tips from their friend who is a professional organizer. Moms who share the inspiration they found in a great meal they had when they went on vacation with their kids.
The moms who have friends selling essential oils, skin care, handbags or jewelry that supports women around the world.
That's me. That's who I'm trying to reach.
That mom needs to know that children, OUR CHILDREN, are being tricked by predators into taking nude photographs and videos. They are being tricked into running away, Tricked into having sex, and then shamed and threatened to keep having sex.
Sometimes those predators are their friends. 93% of the time it's someone they know.
Those are the moms beLydia is trying to reach along with the rest of the world. We want everyone to know this is going on.
We want the mom that can't afford to put food on her table to know. We want the grandmother who has custody of her grandchildren to know. We want the moms on the border who are tricked into trusting nefarious people to take care of her kids to know. Foster care moms, we especially want to reach you.
So we use hospitality to reach those people. We use hospitality to reach you.